A few weeks ago there was a heated discussion on the infamous Kilimani Mums Facebook page, about that night’s episode of My Two Wives, a Kenyan TV drama about a seemingly clueless man married to two wives from opposing ends of the social divide.
This Monday, there was another discussion, with one member saying she had stopped cooking so that she could not miss out on the action.
On Twitter, it was the number one trend. Arguably, My Two Wives is currently the biggest local drama, chasing numbers made a few years back by Churchill Show.
“Social media is now a standard test for knowing how good, great or bad content is,” says Phil Bresson, director at Insignia Productions, the company behind My Two Wives, Junior, Prem, Changing Times and The Comedy Club.
“We also go through some of the comments to pick what we need. It’s like a critique just not from experts but the fans, the audience we make content for.”
But My Two Wives is not the first local programme to hog the Internet and punctuate conversations.
Remember Mirfat Musa, she of the ‘I don’t do fries’ fame?
In 2013, Tujuane was it!
Tujuane matched couples for dates around Nairobi. Some dates were OK, some very hostile and others overly dramatic.
It was always the dramatic match-ups that created more buzz in discussion groups.
The programme blew up after Mirfat’s episode, where the beautiful lady confused her date by making claims that were out of this world.
Mirfat became quite (in) famous, and confirmed the niggling suspicion that the dates were scripted.
Ebru TV has a current version of Tujuane, called Perfect Match, which is more theatrical.
Thanks to YouTube and WhatsApp, content goes viral almost immediately the show runs. These small clips are shared on social networks and are consumed even in the remotest villages of the country.
Before its premature end, Nairobi Diaries was the talk of town. Log into YouTube and you will be served by tens of short videos of the cast cat-fighting, gossiping and acting all shady.
Diana Mulwa, who acts as Toni, the urbane wife and ‘slay queen’ on My Two Wives says she was surprised at how the programme became a hot topic on Kilimani Mums, and all over social media.
“I am shocked, many months later,” she said, about the reception. “The programme is a huge deal on Kilimani Mums, and almost all groups which are predominantly female-dominated.
They discuss like it’s all real, and we feel the programme is a true reflection of the society.”
Diana says she and other actors go through some of the comments for feedback, and to see where to improve.
“Look, we cannot ignore social media. In fact, getting rating figures for local programs can be quite a task, so social media is a good indicator of how popular shows are,” she said.
A few years ago, content going viral was unheard of. There were shows like Tausi, Vioja Mahakamani and Tahamaki, and how the funny clips from the quips of the accused on Vioja Mahakamani would make so much content.
“I once walked into a bank and some lady started watching a viral video of My Two Wives to confirm if it was me she was seeing,” says Diana.
MC Allandoz, a comedian who became famous in The Comedy Club alongside JB Masanduku and others before joining Real Househelps of Kawangware, says the viral content pushes more people to watch the programmes.
“Viral videos are the new marketing technique. After you watch a few funny clips about a certain actor or actress, you will definitely check out the entire programme,” he says.
Real Househelps of Kawangware was the home of Njugush, and currently DJ Shiti is the man is the man bringing in the hits with the most viral videos. Maybe it’s time we got a reboot of Tausi.
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